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Tabletop gaming – Tales of the Con

What IS National Tabletop Day, and why should you care? Why should anyone care – it’s another marketing holiday set up by people who wanted to sell something. Does Nerd Culture really prevail over Late Capitalism every year and succeed in bringing disparate people together over cardboard armies and laser-printed anime art forever etched onto plastic slates? Or is our fascination with media built to create yet another isolated social group focused more on products than ideas.

We’re nerds so by default we have to buy things to take part in our hobbies. This is really no different from anything else that involves any sort of large fan culture – but Tabletop Day can offer a day a year for a great deal of us to take part in some hobbies we can’t normally afford to participate in. There is an unfortunate gatekeeper to this culture so many of us want to represent, and that’s economics.

As Video Games become largely focus on the realm outside of physical space, they of course also largely sacrifice the feeling of playing games next to someone. Though this criticism is not as weighty as it would be if I were writing this in say, 2008, but it is still worth speaking up about. While it’s true there’s a part of the videogame world meant for couch co-op, it has largely been replaced by online interactions.

Sooner or later the rise of tabletop games had to happen. Social interaction is always valued even in the digital era, and tabletop games give us something to interact over.  The scene seems to expand exponentially every year. Especially when you put Kickstarter on top of it and the popularity culture of nerdom, getting a tabletop game launched is easier than ever, so every week it seems like there’s a new avenue for playing games face to face with people.

That popularity culture that brings us together means our interests are always keenly the same: Star Wars, H.P Lovecraft, epic fantasy, grimdark doom, and murderin’ Space Marines. Boardgames also explore areas covered by videogames too: Economic Simulators, City Building, and Travel – and expound upon it with things like subterfuge roleplaying games that pit players against each other in battles of lies.

If it fits these things – or adapts a genre favorite like Steampunk into a realm that allows us to play with it, there’s a very good chance that players at large will be interested and soon there will be the latest Steampunk Zombie H.P Lovecraft game delivered to your doorstep (if you back it on Kickstarter)

Is that the sole reason Tabletop games become popular – or do they also additionally strike up a balance between the physicality of these kinds of games as the medium vs. how abstract our possession of other things we covet has become lately? Even most comic books, long considered a brick and mortar ran industry propagated mostly by small comic shops can be largely replaced by digital subscriptions and online-only offerings (see: The Private Eye, recently released physical)

If this sounds a little bit cynical, it’s because when you talk about something organized around products purely, it helps to be. What is more interesting about National Tabletop Day is ideas that bring people together. We went to Cab Comics in Flagstaff, Arizona this last weekend to support one of our local favorites, Tom Filsinger of Filsinger games. Not because his product appeals to us (it does!) but because we like the kind of dude Tom is and how he turned his hobby and love of wrestling into something he could share with other people.

That sharing of ideas – whether it’s stories, techniques or even simply the act of moving pieces on a board and having to wait patiently while your opponent judges the tactics you’re trying to represent, is what we at TOTC think draws people the ever burgeoning tabletop world.

As expansive and confusing as that world can sometimes be, what National Tabletop Day also represents is another chance for someone who may not have the necessary time to learn a game they can play with their friends in a dark room pouring over rulebooks, to participate and feel welcome in the hobby.  These games create stories that people can tell to each other after the fact, who the hell doesn’t like keeping a record of every brutal defeat or that time everyone pulled together to accomplish a goal. It’s just, y’know, sometimes that goal is defeating an eldritch horror without going stark raving mad.

CAB Comics in Flagstaff had staff on hand for just that – they were waiting by for us to pick a game while Tom Filsinger and The Chief ran Champions of the Galaxy for the folk curious about it right next to us.
Really – it didn’t matter if The Offender and I had ended up rolling a TOTC house roleplaying table or playing Machi koro (surprise: we did both).

What mattered was that eventually, people saw what we were playing and that there were open seats, and came to join us. So we played cardboard strategies with people we didn’t know and got the chance to meet a few new faces. Was it the joy of tabletop that brought them over, or something else entirely? I don’t know – even after working the holiday like we did.

What I do know is that in the back of my head the thought has been burning a hole – which maybe it’s not really the tabletop games or the culture that brings people together, but the simple celebration of ideas that comes from any hobby that requires participants and creators both be creative.

Stardew Valley Double Feature

Like a double album or a back to back movie, Tales of the Con brings you the A-side and B-side on the Stardew Valley.  Two different players, two different perspectives.

 

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Stardew Valley Has Harvested My Fucking Soul  

By: Grim Glamfire


When I was doing my regular round-tour of places I read the other week, one of the articles that stood out the most to me was one of the writers I read often’s thoughts about Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery, and how some games are impossible to duplicate.
Their reason was that Superbrothers is more about conveying a particular mood than any genre contrivances. While being inspired by dozens of other games and works, it’s only superficially like them because the developers had specific things they wanted to represent with their creation.

Lofty claims like that are generally frequently used by journalists, especially when considering any titles that critics and the gaming public deemed noteworthy. Yes that writer might have thought it was specifically attributable to Superbrothers than any other game, but I can only say for myself that I don’t think it’s the specific example.

Stardew Valley epitomizes the kind of game that manages to still adhere to other formats of genre contrivance within one of its key inspirations, Harvest Moon while still being something completely distinct.

Where the appeal is in this game has a lot to do with the mood it cultivates. Stardew Valley is the kind of the thing that can grip the deepest, most manic parts of our brains that are addicted to improvement and forward momentum. Every day in Stardew Valley is another day where a goal is ticked off of your list.

Really, there’s a startling lack of vocabulary for the people that enjoy these sorts of games. Most of them really are just about creating a compulsion in the player to maximize the output of whatever plot of land or space station or company they’ve been given. Even Harvest Moon itself with its marriage and age aspects never really, really takes the ideas it presents anywhere further.  

Out of all of the harvesting that goes on in Stardew Valley, I come away from each session feeling like the only thing really getting harvested is my fucking soul. Yeah it never takes its core ideas to some super smart place like I want it to – but it also gives me the freedom to farm for eight hours, or to never even break earth with a plow if I don’t want to.

Sure, Stardew Valley hits some kind of deep primal itch for creating and managing something that is uniquely ours that all of these farming and crafting games do, but what really sets apart Stardew Valley is I don’t have to do any work if I don’t want to.

Want to go spelunking through a cave and ignore all of your responsibilities like some kind of gross dirt covered, well, spelunker? Yeah sure, you’re enabled to not work on your farm and there are more than enough outlets for you otherwise.

We bill games like this as simulations, but is there any place for storytelling in a simulation – or does that directly contradict the nature of real life? I can cut down trees or raise the money to build a barn – but doing any of this is just a way to veil that no matter how impressive my farm gets all I’m really working towards is giving more people gifts so I can finish their storyarcs.

Does this make Stardew Valley any less playable? Not at all – because even though that is reducing the game to its simplest terms, it still presents a compelling argument in favor of if. What is the purpose of producing anything, if not for the benefit of the community, anyway?

 

Maybe I’m getting ahead a little bit, and that seems to describe something that not a lot of people would play. Considering contemporaries, or even the games that inspired it; most of them involved building a farm with the end goal of the player getting married and passing it along.

If you turn the examination of Stardew Valley being about giving back to the community more inward – you can see that it’s built into the fabric of the way the game tells its story. The best possible situation involves repairing what parts of the community have fallen apart and driving off any forces capable of hemorrhaging the work you’ve done.

The story being built while you play is of course more important than the one the game hands you, and by letting you decide what to do with your time Stardew Valley shows you that it prioritizes how you want to live. Maybe I want to live running through a forest and managing my stamina, hoping to have just enough energy by the end of the day to tie up the last of my chores. Maybe I want to live my life pretending to be a pansexual robot farmer, attempting to fuck their way through a small town while fighting the evils of corporate capitalism.

Stardew Valley hands you a story about the ever encroaching realities of big business being able to loom over the small community you find yourself in. Just a few weeks spent in the Valley and your efforts go towards staving off the fingers of capitalism working their way beneath the fertile soil and poisoning it.

There’s certainly no scene in any of the Harvest Moon games that deal with the struggle of rural homelessness and poverty (which actually seem to be, at least rural poverty, one of the dominant themes of the game)

Whimsy is a word I would still use to describe not only the world, but the players role in it. As the aforementioned farming sex robot I’ve crawled dungeons and romanced people, but I’ve also investigated magical sprites and hunted dense forests in the middle of the night for the right plants to unlock rewards given out by them.

You can step away from the farm for a day or forever, but you will never stop exploring every nook and cranny of the game that presents itself. Sometimes I don’t water my plants just to see if they die, and the game enables that too.  Maybe you do make life better for someone, or everyone, in town. Maybe you fuck up your farm catastrophically and forage in the wilderness after pillaging the lowest levels of the sewers struggling to fight hazardous waste monsters. Stardew Valley presents a world and expects you to try and live in it, even though it will never truly be simulating anything real.

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Stardew Valley: Harvest Moon beyond

By: Red

I grew up playing Harvest Moon. Played it from the GameBoy, up through the N64 (arguably the best) on through Magical Melody. I would get done with work or school, come home and instantly start playing. For some reason the simplicity of it drew me in, while giving you goals and things to achieve that made it worthwhile. It probably didn’t hurt that I grew up on a farm.  I’ve tried Terraria and Minecraft. Both games scratched an “itch” to play Harvest Moon. And both are good, but nothing like Harvest Moon. The most common story line of the series involves the player taking over a farm that no longer has an owner tending to it, growing crops, raising livestock, making friends with the town’s people, and creating a family while running a successful farm. Each game provides objects to collect or goals to complete, whether it is befriending villagers, collecting musical notes, finding sprites, making rainbows, or ringing bells. Money is obtained by growing crops, raising livestock, fishing, mining, and foraging. With a limited time and limited energy, the player has to find a balance between the two in order to accomplish their work for the day.

I was always personally drawn to Harvest Moon games not only for the simplicity of the play, but how deceptively deep it could be in the different parts. Anyone can just grow crops, but figuring the best growing pattern, the best crops to sell, which were best for recipes, or making other products took time. And that was just the basic. Other aspects include: fishing, with its patience and mini-games; mining, which was sometimes seasonal; different animals, with different needs and wants. Adding to that was the variety of towns, towns people, events, and possible travel areas. It all added up to make it something that keeps me coming back. But then I saw a few teasers about StarDew Valley, and I honestly couldn’t wait to try it ….

Now I will give Eric Barone (aka ConcernedApe) credit: for one man building this massive game from the ground up, he did it well and in a relatively short amount of time. And there was a LOT of anticipation for this game from the community. It was given a Greenlight status on Steam. Though apparently that doesn’t mean as much as it first did. It’s sadly a broken system, but the thought behind it was that the game idea was well received by Valve employees and the Steam community members.

Right off the bat, my first impression of the game; “Holy Shit, the options!”. It’s not just “Are you male or female? What do you call the farm?” No no. It’s hair, skin, eyes, accessories, style of clothes, and even choosing your favorite activity. Once you have settled on an avatar, you’re then treated to a cinematic very reminiscent of Harvest Moon games of the past where you see that you hate your city life, and have been given a rundown family farm that you have to now fix up. You also find out that much of the nearby town broken down and need fixing also. Most of that fixing will come from helping the “elves” of this realm. They have goals set up in an old abandoned building, that you can look at by way of plaques on the floor in different rooms. Once you start these collections, you can work on them as quickly or as slowly as you’d like.

The inspiration for ConcernedApe’s elements is obvious. The farm and town setup from Harvest Moon, the mining from Terraria, the customization and crafting of MineCraft. So far the only thing I’ve come against that I haven’t liked is the fishing aspect. The mini-game for collecting fish isn’t explained well, nor is it easy to accomplish once you figure it out. You have a window pop up that shows a fishing pole, a fish with a bar behind it and a completion meter to show how close you are to actually catching the fish. The fish will start moving up and down in it’s section and it’s your job to keep the bar behind it. You click the mouse button to raise the bar and you let go of the mouse to drop the bar. But the second you left go of the button, the bar drops immediately. It’s the same for raising the bar.  It’s almost counter-intuitive the way the bar moves. As you lose contact of the bar and fish, the completion meter drops. Once it is gone, you lose the fish. I’ve rarely succeeded in catching fish because the “catch” bar is either full fledge flying up or dropping senselessly to the bottom. But I have recently found out there are sanctioned mods and a mod manager; one of the mods can ease the fishing or get rid of the mini-game entirely.

Learning the ins and outs of the game has been the best part.  Figuring out the crafting, the combat, and the overall farming aspect has made me very happy. The combat is actually fun. It is a very basic PvE. You swing a weapon and smack them. It does give you an arc as you swing so there can be a broad hit area, but hits are directional. So you must face and click on the side of your body you want the swing. Each weapon has a set of damage range points per swing, each mob has a set amount of health, simple math to defeat them. And they start easy with simple hopping blobs, then grow in difficulty as you get further into the mines. You’ll just have to discover those for yourself. My favorite part of any mining area is getting far down into the mine, as there is usually better items and a greater amount. ConcernedApe also added a reward system of sorts. There is a treasure chest every 10 levels. I have yet to hit the bottom, but I can’t wait to see what I can find there. There is a much larger scale of plants to grow and I can’t wait to see how the greenhouse will change the amounts of crops I grow. I have yet to get into the animal husbandry. I did figure out that you do need a silo to hold the feed, and already have mine full. While there has been a learning curve as far as foraging and general gameplay, the steam community forums have an infinite source of knowledge that has been handy.

I was excited to see this game announced, more excited to continue playing it, and can’t wait to see what stories are to come. And there’s no end to it either, at least not an official ending. And this game will have multiplayer possibilities in the future, which makes it even better. It’s everything I have been wanting in a Harvest Moon style game, and even addressed things I hadn’t thought of. I think Eric Barone has done a wonderful job and look forward to all that he has in store for a game that he has so thoughtfully created.

-Red

#TableTopDay 2016 Photos

Scroll through these pics! We at Tales of the Con are avid players of custom D&D style roleplaying games, card games, and all manner of tabletop gaming. Naturally we wanted to celebrate International Tabletop Day. What better way to do it than in Flagstaff, Az at Cab Comics with Tom Filsinger of Filsinger Games. We played a tournament of Champions of the Galaxy, made friends, and played a lot of other games we’d never heard of. It was a lot of fun!

#tabletopday 2016

Special thanks to Tom Filsinger (We appreciate the shout-out on your podcast!) and to Cab Comics for hosting the event.  Follow us on InstagramTwitter, and Snapchat for live coverage of these types of events.

 

Verde Valley Comic Expo: Wrap-up

We had a blast at the Verde Valley Comic Expo. Interviews with artists, Cosplay coverage, event photos, and more!

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Interview: Jim Hanna at VV Comic Expo – Tales of the Con

We talked to Jim Hanna early in the day at Verde Valley Comic Expo – but we didn’t actually get around to interviewing him last. Hoping to make the procrastination worth it, our very own Sam Kittrel A.K.A. Glam Grimfire took the interview on personally to give our intern PB a break after running around the floor all day.

Glam Grimfire – So Jim has come up here to Cottonwood for the Verde Valley Comic Expo and he’s worked on a whole bunch of things in the industry – it’s pretty likely our readers are familiar with him, but why don’t you tell me a little about what you’ve been up to lately?

Jim Hanna – Lately is a book that I’ve worked on through “Contraband Comics” called Pugly starring my own dog. It’s about when this millionaire old lady dies and leaves all her money to her dog, and everybody is after the dog to get her money. So it’s kind of a silly thing. Like a Disney movie, but still pretty cool. (Please don’t sue us, Disney!)

Glam – It kind of reminds me of old Hollywood movies where they’d have capers like this. But you’ve also done some work outside of that, haven’t you?

Jim – Red 5, and stuff for I.D.W. Publishing and Arcada Comics.  I did a book called Philly through them. There’s also another book that’s coming out in a few months called Starpower and it’s going to be a paperback.

Glam – So you’ve obviously done some stuff all over, what was it that made you want to get into comics, Jim?

Jim – I think it was all of the cartoons growing up, loving to draw and reading comics actually. I think the first comic I ever got was like a G.I Joe comic. So from that I saw “oh! There’s other stuff!” There’s X-men and Spider-man, and that’s when I thought “People actually do this for a living!?” Then it just sort of sparked in me.

Glam – So what are some of your creative influences?

Jim – Oh man there’s so many! When I was a kid I’d get so many of the old-school comics. So I was a big Jack Kirby fan growing up. There’s tons of artists that influence me now form Joe Maduera to Shawn Murphy. There was just a ton of styles that I wanted to emulate. There’s so many artists now that keep upping the bar! Once you feel like “Oh I’m so good.” You’re never gonna get better.

Glam – Yeah, you’ve kind of got to hold onto some humility.

Jim – Oh you need to, it’s hard to find an artist who doesn’t hate their work. You always gotta try to keep it fresh for yourself.

Glam – So is there any place creatively you feel like you’d still want to take your work?

Jim – For years and years I did a very cartoonish style, now I want to push further into more and more detail. Like, keep the style but add more to flesh it out and give it that edge. Like with the Pug Book! I pushed more for a realistic style because I felt like a cartoon style would be a little too ridiculous for the story. Yeah, I hope to push for a more realistic style the further I go, but it also depends on the type of comic I’m doing.

 

Glam – Well it really was fantastic to talk to you, Jim! Thank you for your time.

 

Jim – Yeah! Thank you it was a pleasure.

 

Follow Jim on Twitter: @jimhanna

Interview: Daniel Bradford at VV Comic Expo – Tales of the Con

We met with artist Daniel Bradford who’s an amazing self published comic artist from the Tucson area who was kind enough to exchange a story with our lovely and talented point-man, PB.  

PB: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Daniel Bradford: I’m the creator and artist behind titles such as “Robot 13” “King” and “Disappointing Monsters.” All self published, all my own work.

PB: What’s the latest thing you’ve worked on?

DB: That’d be “Disappointing Monsters.” It’s a web/print comic, but I’ve also been designing my own stickers, working on “Robot 13” it just depends on the day.

 

PB: I’ve noticed that you have a very unique art style, what are some of the artists that inspired you to work towards having such an interesting style?”

DB: Early on I absorbed everything I could get from Mike Mignola. Earlier than that, my work was inspired heavily from Stephen Gammell who was the artist for all the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” books, but as I grew as an artist, I gathered more inspirations as my art style continue to develop and eventually get a fingerprint of its own.

 

PB: So sort of why I’m here is to get this one question out that I have: What’s your most interesting con story from any kind of convention?

DB: A buddy of mine, we were walking the floor together and we both had to use the bathroom pretty badly. We both found what we THOUGHT was the bathroom line for the mens room, but it ended up being the line for Tera Patrick.

PB: How long were you in that line?

DB: Probably about 20 minutes.

PB: (laughter)

DB: It occurred to us that we actually passed the bathroom and then found we were in line for a Porn Star.

PB: What con was this?

DB: The San Diego one I believe, That’s probably the craziest con story I have. My cons can be pretty uneventful!

PB: Well thank you for your time! You have kick ass boots by the way  (We didn’t get a picture!)

 

You can find some of Daniel’s work over at http://www.disappointingmonsters.com

 

Interview: Dave Beaty at VV Comic Expo – Tales of the Con

Our current intern and Point Man for Verde Valley Comic Expo was the lovely (and talented) PB who spent all of the day working the show floor for us while we coordinated with guests and arranged interviews for him. Today he’s bringing you an interview with Dave Beaty. Beaty has been in the comic book industry since 1994. Mostly known for his work with DC, you’ll find his handiwork in comics such as Batman Inc, Grifter, and more. He’s currently working on the self produced Bushi Tales and is one of the organizers of Verde Valley Comic Expo. 

PB: I was reading Bushi Tales, the comic you handed me at the first panel, and it said on the inside of the front page that your nickname was “Dave (is it done yet?) Beaty” could you explain how exactly you got that nickname?

Dave Beaty: “Well my friend Len and his workman who loves a lot of the old Marvel Comics nicknames like Jazzy John Romita so he put that out to be humorous, but at the same point we’re trying to get the deadline and I kept bugging him like “Is it done yet? Is it done yet? Is it done yet!?” so he kind of put that in the credits to razz me a little bit.
PB: That’s awesome. So, I was sort of wondering, is there anything you learned from indie comics that you didn’t learn from working for a company like DC?

DB: Actually most of what I was able to accomplish at DC I learned DOING indie comics. Matter of fact, it was because of my work on Bushi Tales that my friend Scott who I assisted in the past with Alpha Flight as a ghost (an uncredited artist) at first. He really didn’t take me seriously about wanting to do comics for some reason even though I worked with him on Alpha Flight  for a year, but when he saw me self publishing Bushi Tales and getting out there he was like “Ok, you’re really serious about doing this.” So he kinda saw me in a different light, and that’s what led me to working on Justice League and everything after that.

PB: So since we’re know as “Tales of The Con” I was wondering if you could give us one more crazy story of a Con you went to, or maybe bring up that story about Dragon Con that you couldn’t talk about in your panel earlier.

DB: Well I’m just gonna say that Dragon Con is a pretty crazy party con, but that’s really for another time. What I can do is re-tell the story from the panel.

PB: Thad’t be perfect.

DB: Alright, I was at “Anime Con” in Memphis TN and I went to one of my favourite restaurants in the area, I was very excited about that, but I had gotten food poisoning from it and I was very, very sick. So about afternoon of the convention I couldn’t stay on the floor and sketch for people anymore so I went up to my hotel room. I was passed out, my wife actually went out because I have family in Memphis so my wife went out with my family members to keep them entertained and visit and whatever. So I was literally in the hotel room sick, passed out, I wasn’t going anywhere.  At some point (I don’t know how long it’d been) I just woke up and the TV had been left on and it was a disaster movie of course. I heard these weird sounds and I thought “OK, it’s just this weird disaster movie.” And that’s when I noticed the flickering lights in the room, and I was like “great, someone’s pulled the fire alarm.” Because normally it’s never actually a fire, someone’s PULLED the alarm. So anyhow I got up, sick as a dog, went out and of course you can’t use the elevator so you gotta use the stairs.

PB: What floor were you on?

DB: I don’t remember exactly, but I know we were at least above the twentieth.

PB: Oh god.

DB: Yeah I remember it was a hell of a walk down, and so, I get in the stairwell, there’s all of these other people  you know, stumbling down the stairs we’re all going down. There was this one old lady, I swear she was gonna have a heart attack and she was never gonna make it to the bottom! We get all the way down to the bottom, we’re all standing around in the parking lot and it’s summer in Memphis. It’s humid, it’s hot, and everyone’s miserable. Some people looked like they were gonna throw up in the bushes. I’m just looking for some place to die, and in CLASSIC ANIME FASHION, one of the kids has a guitar, and starts walking up and down singing “We didn’t start the fire.”

PB: That’s great, thank you for sharing that!

DB: No problem.

PB: Now I have to say, I’ve been walking around here and I’m seeing all the people and all the kids having so much fun in a town that really doesn’t have that much stuff going on for youths. I really have to say thanks for helping orchestrate this. I really think everyone around here really appreciates this.

DB: Cool! I really hope everyone around here had a really great time. I know I want to do it again next year, kudos to my friend Jan (thejanimal.com) who also is a really important part to this convention, and helped me to organize this so hopefully we’ll be able to continue this again.

PB: Well thank you so much for your time!

You can find some of Dave’s work at http://www.bushitales.com/ and http://www.redskirtsonline.com/

-TOTC

 

 

VVCE 2016 – Photos

Scroll through these pics! The Verde Valley Comic expo, like ComicCon or any convention, is a celebration of both the Artists/creators and the fan communities. Exploring, making friends, and discovering new things is what its all about.

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VVCE 2016

Afterthoughts – VV Comic Expo – Tales of the Con

The most important thing for us here at TOTC isn’t comics or pop culture or any of our hobbies, it’s our community. After all, none of us would be where we are today without the support of our communities through our lives. So when we heard about the Verde Valley Comic Expo we were absolutely ecstatic.

This was after all, a place for comic creators of all types locally and abroad to come together, and it was happening in our own backyard no less. The TOTC team hit the local street this past Saturday in full colors to see what it was all about.

Organized and ran by locals almost entirely, The Verde Valley Comic Expo ended up being something of a hit in Cottonwood. Three hundred and ten total guests were in attendance including the six of us, and I only really count as half of a person! There were fans of all ages and levels of involvement there, from kids brought by their parents to see cosplayers to die hard comic fans eagerly picking through cardboard longboxes.

You wouldn’t have just found local comic fans and creators there, people came from all over the valley for the expo itself and some of the presenters came from out of the state just to be at our humble little comic expo in Cottonwood. How could TOTC miss such an amazing chance to listen to stories, shake hands and kiss babies?* (*Editors note: No babies were kissed, especially not by the literally undead member of staff.)  

Getting to be right at the ground level of this kind of engagement and excitement here locally was sort of amazing. It’s one thing to stand in a big convention like Phoenix, but it’s another to see how this small little group from last year managed to pull in a three hundred guests this year. I wouldn’t have ever imagined running into someone like Michael Gallagher (famous for his work for MAD and on Sonic the Hedgehog) or Jim Hanna out here on the frontier. Then there’s us, a bunch of grimy and dirty punks and nerds getting to be journalists!

The froth was alive in the hall of the cottonwood Rec center, densely packed from wall to wall with artist booths and people from all over the valley and the Midwest. I don’t know how the Jan “The Janimal” Quisumbing and Dave Beaty managed to set up such a smooth event, but we want to give a huge shout out to them. Some of us at TOTC have covered events around Arizona for half a decade now, if not longer, and few have gone as swimmingly as Verde Valley Comic Expo did.

It was really the kind of place that you’d feel welcome at whether you were a super-fan, a creator yourself, or just someone who wanted to look at some talented artists creations and talk to other people who like comics.

We have so many interesting stories even from our humble little comic expo that we’re excited to share. Everyone at a convention really does have a story to tell, from artists to writers to fans. You can bet Tales of the Con will be there to find out what they are.

-Glam Grimfire

Be sure to check out our photos from the event.